Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Playing Air Guitar In The Shower

So it’s 2009. I know how disappointed we all are that 2008 is over. We are equally as disappointed that George W. Bush’s presidency is over. It’s been a rough ride but an era of jack-assed stupidity seems to be coming to a close. Or does it? Something is over. Something new is beginning. It is as it ever was and what is really important is the fact that it’s always actually right now. I love the simplicity and smart assedness of this kind of a comment. 2008 is over. Bush is out. Ben is now 32. But guess what folks, it’s still just right now and when it comes down to it, that’s all that really matters.

I’m not really one to write blog posts about all the mundane details of my day to day life, partly because it feels a bit presumptuous to assume that my life is that interesting, and partly because I’m more interested in experiencing my life as it happens rather than spending much time reliving and documenting it. And also because I doubt any of you give a shit about what I had for lunch today or whether or not I had trouble locating my car keys this morning. If those kinds of things about another person’s life actually do interest you then, friend to friend, Iet me suggest that you seek some psychological counseling because that can’t be healthy.

However, having said that, sometimes you just sit down to write without anything particular to write about (like now) and the little goings on of your life tend to come out. It’s been hard to actually sit down and do this lately. There are so many areas of interest out there and try as I may, I can’t cover all the territory I’d like to in any given day or week. Of all things I am taking guitar lessons now. I’ve messed around on the guitar for years now and I can do fairly well but until three weeks ago I didn’t know the major scale from a fish scale.

Now I’m diving into the world of music theory and one particular character trait in my personality is becoming very clear to me. I don’t precisely know how you’d word it but let’s just say, whatever the endeavor, my tendency is to attempt to run full speed prior to learning the basics of walking. Occasionally I succeed at this or get somewhere in the ballpark of it, which leads to interesting results. This guitar thing is a great example. I can do some advanced things but am quite baffled by the fundamentals and I’m kind of having to learn it backwards now. That’s alright though.

The bottom line is that I like to cut out the fluff. So much of life is fluff, and by fluff I mean unnecessary bullshit that you needn’t waste your time or get involved with. If one is not careful, one’s life will be dominated by fluff (unnecessary bullshit). Now a more critical perspective on this approach would be to say that I try to shortcut everything. That may be so. But…I believe there is a shortcut to everything, or almost everything. A better way to say it is that I believe there is a direct route to most any destination. There is also the non direct route which, for whatever reason, seems to be the most popular. I’m being vague here but I know you get what I’m saying.

It’s been tempting to write more about politics but the more I’ve delved into it, the more of a quagmire I realize that it really is. Now I can make my point and back up my positions and that can be fun but I would love nothing more than to get over the need or desire to prove how right I am on any given subject. That’s just an ego thing. It’s a game. It doesn’t matter that I’m right. I like the challenge of a good debate but still, just more ego. What’s the point?

Does this mean I won’t be taking the Fox News and Rush Limbaugh crowd to task when the opportunity presents itself? Of course not. But I won’t be making a career out of it, although that would be both easy and fun. Because of the fact that it’s so easy and fun, there are already a million other people out there doing a fine job of it.

Okay…I’m rambling here, doing a little self-analysis too. There is neither time nor topic for a serious blog entry right now but I did want to check in and wish everyone a seriously happy 2009. It’s bound to be an adventure.


notamobster said...

Happy New Year to you too, sir. Did you read my comment at the bottom of the last essay? You really need to check it out (being another blogger against theocracy and all)

Ben There said...

Ha! That is too funny...and bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Ben Lives!!!
Can someone be "serious" and "happy" at the same time (as in "a seriously happy new year") hmmmm. Took up the guitar myself about 1 1/2 years ago--didn't like the lesson part--wanted to do what I wanted to and a chords chart on my wall--Mrs. Jj got me an electronic drum set for Christmas--Now, I don't want to work, just want to bang on my drum all day--maybe someone has said that before though---32 huh...I have underwear older than you--but we won't go there for now. Went with the boys today to the next town up to pick up a friend of theirs--took an hour and I heard a lot of what Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Bloodhound Gang and many others had to offer--helps keep me young--cracked some jokes and got in what they call an "old man burn" when the opportunities arose--the recipient of the burn can't say anything for 2 minutes--their rules, not mine--maybe dad isn't such a dickhead after all--next thing you know, you'll be 50 or 60 and I'll be 60 or 70--that's cool though--what else do I have going on.
Not at mirrors much--I read whatever Les writes, but just not commenting much--kinda burned out on death and mayhem for now--
Glad to see you put some words down to let us know you're around--


Ben There said...

Greetings Jj -

I hadn't planned on taking guitar lessons for another 10 or 20 years or so but I just happened to stumble across the right teacher. I wouldn't take lessons from just anybody.

I haven't been commenting or even reading that much over at Mirrors because there's only so much of that fire and brimstone that I can take. I don't think it's an issue of denial for me but there's only so many times I need to hear it. Now Visible Origami is different...that I can hear a thousand times over.

Glad to have you stop by and I hope you had an exciting (or pleasantly boring) New Years.

Anonymous said...

Ben, congratulations on picking up the guitar. It is a wonderful device that is capable of some truly amazing things, with the right input of course. Are you starting out with an electric or are you "unplugged"? I have been playing for 30 years, and I'm actually starting to get it a little! I am self-taught, mostly by listening to records over and over again. I think my mom knew all the words to Rush 2112 and the vast majority of Santana's work, but it was all worth it when she came and saw my band win the Stillwater High School battle of the bands my junior year. She never told me to turn it down after that.

Getting a teacher is great, as is playing with others informally. Stealing other's licks is a great tradition, and it always makes for a good "lesson" to go and see good players live. Learning other people's stuff can be fun, but wait until you surprise yourself and string a couple chords together in a manner that seems entirely yours (just don't be crushed when your friend/wife/teacher says "Oh, that sounds just like.....). Big grins there for sure. Oh, and don't forget one of the most important aspects of music - the space between the notes. Peace to you all.


Ben There said...

Hi Z -

I've been playing guitar for about 8 or 9 years now. And by "playing", I mean just messing around here and there. I got to where I could learn my favorite part of about any song I wanted to learn by using tab and listening to the cd, etc. However, I never knew the first thing about music theory and had never had a lesson or anything. I play Hendrix,SRV, Santana, John Mayer, type stuff. I've wanted to get video(s) up here just for the hell of it but haven't taken the time. The one that I did make didn't have very good sound quality but I'll try again soon.

So you've been playing 30 years huh? I regret that I didn't start earlier...

Anonymous said...

so, do you really end up with calluses on your fingers? i've heard that fingertips hurt when you're learning to strum and such.

i played the organ as a little girl and into my teens. didn't take lessons though, just learned songs by ear, and played them for my dad.

i think blogging about personal feelings and experiences is what makes a blog readable. i think it might be why blogs have gained in popularity. when i read you talking about how you approach remind me that you are another human being...and i find myself comparing and contrasting my own approach...or that of my late husband, my brothers...hell, anyone i've known, i guess.

i think when you blog the personal, you connect. even if no one actually replies, they're thinkin'...yep. i know what he means.

Ben There said...

Hey cat -

Yes, I do have small callusses on three fingers of my left hand. I remember taking a few piano lessons from my grandmother when I was very very young. Unfortunately I didn't have the attention span or motivation to do more than two or three lessons (at that time).

I agree that there is an upside about blogging on the personal. I guess feelings or noteworthy experiences are one thing and then menial details of one's day to day life is another. Then again, I guess they sometimes intertwine.

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I think it's the mundane, day-to-day that connects us...especially when we're living in the same culture/sub-culture...we tend to attend to the same tasks..and it's kinda nice to know one is not alone in the shit, ya know?

And for those from different cultures, it's kinda cool to see what occupies other peoples. It's heartening to see just how much we have in common, and fascinating to read about the stuff we don't. (even the little stuff, cuz it's just the kind of stuff we don't read about in papers...)

I'm probably giving this too much time, but I think it's cool to watch folks. It's fun to see just how alike we all are, while learning about the little differences...

Anonymous said...

I must have been about 12 when I came home from school one day and the first thing mum said to me, on this day, as I walked through the door was ‘have I got a surprise for you’.
Uh! Oh.
Guitar lessons; steel guitar lessons (Hawaiian).
Ohhh... mum!
I am about as musical as a nail clipping. My gran was a good piano player, mum and all of her siblings could sing up a storm but me – nothing.
Anyhow after a bit of persuasion I decided OK; mainly I think because I would learn to read music and for mum too of course.
Did the course, practiced, played without any errors but, even I could see I was very mechanical; not a great deal of feeling went into my playing I was more intent on doing it right.
After the course was over, never played another note again – on any musical instrument (I whistle pretty good- does that count).

However unlike you Ben my approach to learning new things is when I need to know I go and learn. No build up; too much mucking around. Long ago wanted to learn (computer) programming, started an accounting course (pthhh!), part of a business degree which had as an element beginning BASIC; went on from there. As my kids grew up I wanted to silk screen T-shirts for them (Eat the Rich etc.) didn’t know the first thing about the subject – found a night course and went and learnt. Wanted to participate in my children’s sports – did coaching courses etc. etc.
Even now – need to know: go and learn! I like learning which helps.

All the best with your formal guitar lessons mate.

Oh, and as my gran used to say boring is between the ears of the beholder (or some such) I’d include mundane in there also. I know I’d love to know the mundane things in my grand father’s life unfortunately he left no written word of his existence. My loss.

Randall said...

hey Ben, what I like to do (over blues changes) is use different modes and arpeggios to improvise from.
Ever try a melodic minor arp starting
from the 4th above a minor 7th
Pretty cool sounding.

Ben There said...

Tony -

The steel guitar fascinates me. It has an amazing sound even though I'm not a huge fan of country music, which is where it makes most of it's appearances here. It sounds like you are a very left brain guy (extremely logical and pragmatic). I also love learning but it's just that I often try to skip the fundamentals and go straight to the good stuff. Thanks for that story Tony. Did I ever mention that I work in I.T.? I'm a programmer but have never been taught to program, but I sure wish I would have been. Oddly enough I was scheduled for a week long training class in a new programming language this week but it got cancelled.

catnapping -

It's always amazed me at how much human beings have in common, regardless of culture. We all want the same things (basically) and fear the same things. It really is quite an achievement that we manage to conjure up so much divisiveness. We're kind of mad genuises that way.

Randall -

What you said there almost makes sense to me. "Almost" being the key word there. I've now had 5 formal lessons and when I started I didn't know what a scale was. Or a mode. I'm still getting used to the terminology. I'm doing some cool jazzy stuff right now though playing major and minor 7th chords, using leading tones, and an arpeggio. Didn't know what an arpeggio was until last week. Wow, I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about there. I hope to get some little video up soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Candycane said...

i like your blogs and i think it would be funny if everyday you'd write on here what you had for breakfast and whether or not you had a hard time locating your car keys. i would read it. i want to know how long you waited after getting to work to go take a pee. i want to know if you went out to lunch or packed it and what did you pack, and if you snacked at your desk later. i want to know verbatum (sp?) your conversation w/ you closest co worker, like the next cubicle over, just one conversation, not all of them. was it something like "hey dale, could you pass your stapler, mine is out of staples and i'm too lazy to refill it" then i want to know if there was traffic coming home, what music you listened to, who you called on your cell phone, and what anna last said to you via email or cell and what yall decided on for dinner. after that, the rest of your evening in a nutshell please as i don't have all day....